Some of the brightest young minds in the the digital advertising space are gathered in Vail, Colo., this week for the Digiday Agency Innovation Camp. Around 80 young digital natives — all in their late 20s and early 30s are on hand to meet, greet and compete in a series of games, challenges and brand hacks.

Digiday took the opportunity to ask a few of these digital media best and brightest why they got into the business in the first place — and where they think it will be in five years. Listen up: The kids are alright.

Jacquelyn Cowardin, associate media director, DWA
I started back in traditional. My first assistant media planner job was in print and newspapers and magazine. I fell in love with branding that way. About four years in, I was like, “Wait, there’s so much more going on; I’ve got to jump on that bandwagon.” I knew that was the change, and that was where advertising was headed in terms of targeting and optimization and everything I want to do. I’m such a numbers person, and being able to have that ROI on the backend is huge.

It’s kind of cheesey, but we were so happy to have so many data points to talk about targeting. But now it really is optimization and honing in on what really works. Our consumers and our clients are getting smarter. So how are we going to continue to educate them? For me, it’s about creating teams between the client and the agency versus just working as a vendor.

Amanda Dixon, media supervisor on the integrated broadcast/out of home and digital team, Team One
I got interested in it through my sister who works as a media buyer on a tier-two account. She thought it would be great for me knowing my background and what I was always interested in. She pushed me and encouraged me. The digital space is where I see myself all the time — I don’t own cable; I don’t listen to the radio; I do everything online. I am a digital native. I grew up that way.

So I see the industry moving toward what I’m doing now — the integrated thinking. Taking everything from a holistic manner, making sure you can reach everyone through all the outlets, mobile out of home, tv, digital, working all together as one.

Nelson Elliott, search manager, MEC
I got into digital advertising because I felt it played well to my strengths. I always felt I had a pretty good aptitude for picking up technology. I’ve known for a long time I wanted to be in marketing. I studied marketing in school, and I picked up a lot of technological skills along the way, and so I figured I’d go somewhere I could put those both to good use.

From a search perspective, I think we’re going to see a lot more intent-driven buys. Guys like Yieldbot are trying to derive intent from what people are doing based on navigation. I think we’re going to see people trying to understand what people are looking for with a lot more context.

Meghan Flor, connection strategist, Olson
I got into digital advertising because something is new and different every single day. It’s never a dull moment; it’s always changing; it’s always challenging, and it’s really frickin’ exciting.

Didn’t we just talk here about how we can’t predict the future? [Laughs.] In five years, I see more integration with nondigital media, even more integration with TV and radio. I’m a holistic planner. Luckily I have a kind of understanding of all media. I wonder with the direction we’re going, with how everything is getting so integrated — how that’s going to play out in our industry.

Rachel London, account management, Grey
I’m not in digital, but that’s where the industry’s going. It’s sort of career suicide to not want to be in digital. There’s a sports analogy: You don’t want want to throw the football to where the guy is currently standing — you want to throw it to where he’s running.

Wearable technology I think will be a big thing. Things that anticipate people’s needs and just work more on an individual level.

Courtney Berg, digital planning supervisor, MediaCom
I liked math and I was a little creative, so I started as a media planner assistant. I was traditional, and I moved onto the digital side. It’s constantly evolving, and it’s a great place to be.

I think everything is going mobile. I think desktop inventory will not be as important as it is. I think it’s really going cross platform and being across every single device — especially tablet and mobile.

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